I am happy, and disappointed at the same time to see that The Pirates! Band of Misfits made so much money, because it is a truly remarkable film. It opened overseas in March and to date has a $58 million dollar gross with nearly $56 million coming from foreign sales. Without question the film will do well in The United States. It’s everything we go to the movies to see, it’s grand, it’s funny, it’s exciting, and was just a whole load of joy on the screen.
This movie was a must see in my family, since any subject that has pirates in it makes it a priority. But in this instance there was an extra incentive. I raised my children on the films of Wallace and Gromit from Aardman Studios, so we were all intensely excited to see a rendition of that type of stop motion animation from that studio. And we weren’t disappointed. The film was just fantastic in every category.
I don’t recall laughing so much in a film for a very long time. As usual, in the tradition of Wallace and Gromit action sequences, there were wonderfully difficult stop motion scenes in The Pirates! Band of Misfits that truly pushed the very edge of stop motion animation, particularly the bathtub scene. Watching it in the scene below does not ruin the experience of seeing it on the big screen in 3D. I would pay money again to see the film just for this scene.
I love movies that depend on good clean fun to tell a story, and nobody today does it better than Aardman Studios. They are truly the best there is. In the world of animation only Pixar is doing anything even remotely as genius as the work seen in The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
The film itself was not a disappointment at all. My kids are preparing for a long trip to go see a play in London next week and then a photo expedition in Paris, so we all got together Friday night to see The Pirates! Band of Misfits before they leave. As we bought our tickets I was very impressed to see that Simon and Schuster was giving out free copies of Carter Goodrich’s new children’s book Zorro Gets an Outfit which was hauntingly reminiscent to my personal circumstances since I am set to become a grandfather soon. The book reminded me of all the kid stuff I was about to become reacquainted with, as my own children have been grown for quite some time now. The book is very good and of high quality as I browsed through it prior to the start of the film. Everything about the theater experience was set to be epic on a Friday night out with my family, a big movie release by Aardman, a book promo by Simon and Schuster, a giant state-of-the-art screen—everything was perfect—except for the audience.
Nobody was there. Besides my family, there were only three other families in the largest theater at the multiplex. It probably would have been cheaper for the theater to gives us the movie print they had in their possession and send us home rather than run the projector for such a small audience on a Friday night. The small audience was not the fault of the movie or the effort of the studios—it was the economy. Nobody was out and about on a Friday night with their kids to see a good old fashion family film, and that said a lot about the state of The United States.
As the film ended and we all got up excited from the wonderful film, I paused a minute to look around at the silence of the theater and I was truly sad. It was only 10:30 PM and the parking lot outside was nearly vacant. If a movie like The Pirates! Band of Misfits didn’t pack the house, not much would. I suddenly understood the reason why Sony Pictures did not release the film first in the United States, but instead focused on the international market—because they didn’t want the poor numbers from America to hinder their box office opening. The big American releases are waiting for May and June when kids get out of school to see movies, because the economy is that weak.
On a personal level I had a wonderful evening with the work of Aardman Studios. Before the film, my wife and I picked up my kids at their house where we had Little Creasers Pizza, and watched a quick episode of Wallace and Gromit from Netflix to get into the spirit before heading to the theater.
Art does reflect the culture it comes from and there is a reason American films were the envy of the world for such a long time, because the culture of America was the same. But that is changing, and the evidence is even in the kinds of movies America is making, the way studios market them and who shows up to see them on a Friday night.
With all considerations included, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a wonderful film that I’d recommend seeing several times, even if you go to see the movie by yourself. However, if you have children in your life, you are wasting time if you are not already in your car and on the way to the theater. Movies simply don’t get any better than this one. Every single frame of it was a delight to the senses.
This is what people are saying about my new book–Tail of the Dragon